Is God in control?

This year, for those living in America, a new president was elected, it was not pretty. Both candidates drew such ire that many wished we could start from scratch, but such is not in the cards (or the law). Regardless of who was elected half the nation would be more than disappointed.

Since the results were announced there have been protests and riots. Cars set afire, businesses broken into, even a few law enforcement officers have been injured, all by people upset because their candidate did not win. This year it cannot even be contested in the courts as the margin was not close – 51 electoral votes separated the two candidates, far more than anyone anticipated, and in the opposite direction. Many of the protesters appear to be Christians, I say “appear” from their appeals to God, signs, and comments to the reporters, but are they? Or have they become so lost in the quagmire of their daily lives that they have lost sight of what is really important?

Jesus told us that one thing is important – to love the Father, and through that love to love each other, unquestioningly, and completely. To love even our enemy, and to show that love like a light on a stand, for all the world to see. He did not differentiate between ideological and physical enemies, but told us to love everyone because, as with the Samaritan, we do not know who is really a friend and who an enemy.

Jesus also did not get embroiled in the politics of the day, keeping his attention focused on what really matters in life – loving God, and helping others to see the light of God in everyone. We live in a unique time upon this earth and, if you are among the lucky, in a unique cultural environment. We have a voice in our leadership, that does not mean we always get the leadership we want, but we have the opportunity to help select that leadership. Also, our leaders are limited in what they can, and cannot, do. Sure, they can make life difficult for a while, but they cannot take your life away from you, and they can do nothing to harm your immortal soul. Jesus tells us not to worry about those who can do us harm, but to be concerned more about those who can harm our immortal soul.

What has happened here in America (to those whose candidate did not win) is not the end of life, not the end of your immortal soul. It is but a wink in the eye of time. It’s ramifications, passing. It’s effect on his plan, minor. Eight years ago the other half of the population decried the election, but the people survived, the nation survived. Four-eight years from now it will be the same. Our lives may, or may not, be disrupted, but our immortal souls will survive if we but love God and his children, no matter whom they may be.

God is in control.

1850 Know-Nothings Rise Again

©Library of Congress
©Library of Congress

Before the founding of the Republican Party in 1854, the two political parties were the Democrats and the Whigs. Anti-slavery Whigs met in February of 1854 – an election year – to establish a new party and oppose the spread of slavery into new, western territories. This caused an irreparable split in the party, causing the Whigs imploded previous to the election. The two-party system collapsed and secret societies abounded.

Where did the former Whigs who favored slavery go? Into these secret societies. Two such societies were The Order of United Americans and The Order of the Star Spangled Banner. Roaring out of these secret societies came nativism, xenophobia and the American Party.

When politicians from the American Party were asked about their membership in the secret societies, they would respond, “I know nothing.” They responded so frequently with this refrain, newspapers across the country coined the American Party the Know Nothing Party, and it stuck.

What did the platform of the American Party look like?

In the East it looked like finding and calling for the deportation of all Irish and Italian Roman Catholics, Jewish, and free Black immigrants who were blamed for all the problems of the country.

In the Midwest it looked like finding and calling for the deportation of all German immigrants who were blamed for all the problems of the country.

In the West it looked like finding and calling for the deportation of all Asian immigrants who were blamed for all the problems of the country.

In Donald Trump’s long-awaited immigration speech Wednesday night, these were some of the phrases he used about this country’s immigrants: “Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals allowed to freely roam our streets…violent offenders…we have to release them into your communities…the results will be horrific…some of the most heinous crimes imaginable…accused of murder, rape and child molestation…local police know each and every one of them – they know where they live, they know them by name, when I am in office, the first hour, those people will be gone.”

Excellent speech by Donald Trump tonight. Deport criminal aliens, end catch and release, enforce immigration laws & American First. Tweeted by David Duke, longtime Ku Klux Klan member

So here we are with history repeating itself. It’s not as if we don’t know better. Yet we continue to turn our backs on lessons learned, ignoring the obvious, letting fear once again weaken our resolve to live our lives from integrity. And those of us who contend we follow a greater God have either remained silent and stepped away from the process entirely, or have instead mistakenly been worshiping an emperor who has no clothes.

I have been one of the silent ones for far too long. I can no longer remain on the sidelines and listen to racist rhetoric without calling it out for what it is. I must reiterate this is a country founded on religious freedom, whose foundation is build upon the sweat and backs of immigrants, country whose invitation to immigrants and their families (“Give me your tired, your poor; Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free) has been calling out from New York’s Liberty Island since 1886.

I have been one of the silent ones for far too long. I can no longer remain on the sidelines and listen to racist rhetoric without calling it out for what it is.

We must hunker down and pray: for our country, for each other and for our souls. Let us pray and repent of our hate and our fear; let us once again revere Your name and exhibit compassion for each other. Let us embrace Your love – the kind of love that casts out fear. Let us embrace not our own agendas, but Your Agenda, Your Good News. Let us once again cherish what this country was meant to be.

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can anyone who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” (sic) Abraham Lincoln, Letter to JF. Speed, August 24, 1855

From What Cup Will We Drink?

drinking glasses

The shooting in Orlando, Florida in the early morning hours on Sunday was a horrible tragedy. It was a horrific mass shooting that was both a terrorist shooting by someone who identified himself with Isis, and an act of domestic terrorism by someone born here who bought an assault rifle and decided to use it in an act of hate and violence. It was the act of a coward.

How do we view this act of violence?

A few have unfortunately already begun to drink from the cup of condemnation. They view it as “divine retribution for sins.” They have forgotten their First Love and have become like the Pharisees; grasping at law, yet compassionless for their brothers and sisters in the human race God created.

AR-15 style assault rifle fires 800 rounds per minute
AR-15 style assault rifle fires 800 rounds per minute

Some have latched onto and drink from the cup of politics. Instead of focusing on sympathy for the grieving families, and allowing time to mourn, they jump immediately on the bandwagon of gun control. While I may entirely agree with your position, now is not the time; now is the time for lamentation.

Others may choose to drink from the cup of hatred: all Muslims are alike. If Omar Mateen’s family had been banned from coming into this country, this never would have happened. We forget the Pilgrims came to this country to have religious freedom.

I prefer to drink from the cup of unity and compassion; I thirst right now for unity and compassion in our country and with my Christian brothers and sisters.

As President Obama said yesterday,

“This was an act of terror and an act of hate; this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.

 “Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history.

“In the coming hours and days, we’ll learn about the victims of this tragedy. Their names. Their faces. Who they were. The joy that they brought to families and to friends, and the difference that they made in this world. Say a prayer for them and say a prayer for their families—that God give them the strength to bear the unbearable. And that He give us all the strength to be there for them, and the strength and courage to change.

“In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give in to fear or turn against each other. Instead, we will stand united, as Americans, to protect our people, and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us.”

It should not matter this terrorist took out his hate upon people in a gay bar. It should matter that he took out his hate upon 103 human beings, 50 of whom died on American soil.

I pray with all my heart God plants a thirst in us for unity, grace and love. I pray as a nation we unite in compassion, we reach for dignity for all people He has created. I pray for those of us who are Christians, God please help us lay down our need to accuse and condemn, and pick up Jesus’ yoke of love and grace.

I pray with all my strength we see this as a horrible act of hatred, of terror, of one person’s twisted mind taking out his twisted logic on 103 people, 50 of whom are dead. Let us pray in grace, and be united in love.